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The 20th century still looms large in Poland, and particularly in Nowa Huta. The eastern suburb of Krakow was built almost from scratch at Stalin’s behest by Poland’s communist government shortly after the Second world War, and is still home to more than 100,000 residents. The area – whose name means “New Steelworks” in Polish – was built as a sort of communised utopia for the city’s workers.

Postcard from... Limburg

Churchgoers in Germany’s cathedral city of Limburg welcomed the abrupt departure of Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst last October when the Vatican suspended him from his duties.

Postcard from... Madrid

For some strange reason, wedging a car into an unnervingingly small underground carpark space has always seemed to be as integral to the average Spanish travel experience as drinking sangria or eating a tortilla de patatas omelette . But now the mystery has been solved.

Postcard from... Bordeaux

The other day I observed the formal induction of the new intake of students at a prestigious college in Bordeaux. Of the 268 students in the hall, 195 of them – more than 72 per cent – were young women, who were about to begin a rigorous 30-month training programme to become judges in the École Nationale de Magistrature.

Postcard from... Barcelona

It is World Cup year, and that can mean only two things: crushing disappointment for England fans (our own fault for believing the impossible) and taxi drivers everywhere displaying faux patriotism by attaching plastic St George’s crosses to their cabs.

Postcard from... Beijing

A state TV exposé on prostitution in China’s “sex capital” and an ensuing police crackdown have drawn criticism from the public, who expressed sympathy for the sex workers.

Postcard from... Paris

What on earth are they smoking in northern France? Hydrangeas, apparently. Police in the Pas de Calais are on the trail of a “hydrangea gang”, which is presumably a direct descendant of the Lavender Hill Mob. Residents of several villages have filed complaints that their prized hydrangeas have been systematically stripped of buds or growing tips. Carefully placed in soil or compost, these buds can develop into new plants.

Postcard from... Mitrovica

They’ve been roughing each other for a century, but now Serbs and Albanians in this ethnically divided city in Kosovo are learning to work together through a sport all about gaining territory: rugby.

Postcard from... Kolkata

There are surely grander places to eat in Kolkata, but there are few where the food is so delicious. Or where the simple pleasure of eating benefits such a worthy cause.

Tony Blair is now advising the governments of no fewer than 20 countries

Robert Fisk: If only Tony Blair could grasp the truth about Field Marshal Sisi

Do the British people love Blair? Do they eat Blair chocolates and wear Blair pyjamas?

Postcard from... Berlin

In the Germany the “British Bobby” is still regarded as a model of gentlemanly policing, so Boris Johnson’s proposals to equip the London Met with German-manufactured water cannons has come as a shock.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon (centre) welcomes delegates hoping to bring an end to Syria’s civil war to the Montreux Palace Hotel in Switzerland

Geneva talks: Give Syrians a voice

The peace talks are offering a way out of a vicious cycle, and it is one of the very few hopes for the vast majority of Syrians who reject extremism

Former concentration camp prisoners attend a ceremony at the memorial site of the former Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland, on Holocaust Day, January 27, 2014. The ceremony took place 69 years after the liberation of the death camp by Soviet troops, in rememberance of the victims of the Holocaust.

Holocaust Memorial Day is as much about the future as the past

As we approach a time when there will be no more survivors, focus is intensifying on recording their stories and learning the lessons of then – for now

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walks past his uncle Jang Song Thaek - Jang Song Thaek is reported to have been executed for 'attempting to overthrow the state'

North Korea: Kim Jong-un 'executes direct relations of purged uncle', claim reports

Claims that secretive communist regime has carried out a further brutal purge of those the young leader sees as a threat to his authority

With insights like these, Gerald Howarth must be a shoo-in for the Most Cerebral Backbencher award

This veteran intellectual giant of the frothing right has been a delight since first being elected in 1983

Tony Blair: Global strategy needed to defeat religious extremism

The former Prime Minister argues that the battles of this century will be fueled by religious differences rather than political ideology

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'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
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Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

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Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
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Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor